Roasting Adds a New Twist to Vegetables

The farmer’s market season is winding down but there is still time to enjoy the end-of-the-season veggies in a new way. All you need is an oven, a baking sheet, olive oil and seasonings (salt, pepper and your choice of herbs and spices). Roasted vegetables is a mouth-watering dish that your family will enjoy and ask for again. The high dry heat of the oven concentrates the natural sugar in the vegetables creating a caramelized flavor that is both savory and sweet.

Selecting the vegetables to roast is an important first step. Root vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and turnips are delicious when roasted. Other vegetables like winter squash, asparagus and mushrooms are also good choices for roasting. Green colored vegetables like green beans and broccoli are not as well suited because their color may turn to an unappealing olive green. Be sure that cut vegetables are similar in size so they cook evenly.

Set oven temperature between 400-450°F and move the racks to the top third of the oven. The higher rack helps the vegetables to brown. The high heat is important so the vegetables caramelize on the outside. Cooking at a lower temperature will cause the vegetables to overcook before they achieve their browned color. Use a heavy 13×9-inch roasting pan or any large baking pan. Lining the pan with aluminum foil will save time when cleaning up.

Put vegetables that take the longest to cook in the pan first. It is important to leave space between vegetables. If vegetables are crowded together, they will steam instead of roast. In a small bowl, combine olive oil with your choice of seasonings, like lemon juice, salt, pepper. A general rule of thumb: use 1 Tablespoon of olive oil for every 2 pounds of vegetables. Drizzle the seasoned oil over the vegetables in the pan and toss lightly to coat all the vegetables. Remember to keep some oil if you are adding other vegetables later in the roasting process. Coating the vegetables lightly with the seasoned oil keeps them from drying out and adds flavor while roasting. You can also add garlic cloves or sprigs of fresh rosemary, oregano, thyme or sage to your pan to add flavor.

Vegetables cook at different times so use this chart as a guide to determine recommended roasting time. For example, roast onions and Brussels sprouts (tossed with seasoned olive oil), uncovered, about 30 minutes, stirring once. Remove the pan from the oven and add red peppers (drizzled with remaining oil). Toss to combine all vegetables together in pan and return to the oven. Continue to cook about 10 to 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and brown on the edges.

Roasted vegetables are a special treat especially this time of year when the vegetables are fresh out of the garden but can also be enjoyed year round. Combining a colorful variety of vegetables together when roasting makes an appetizing and healthy side dish.

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